15 Bright Young Stars We’re Obsessing

This article was last updated on April 16, 2022

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Without driver’s licenses, college diplomas, and the ability to order a drink at the neighborhood bar, the majority of Young Hollywood is shockingly, well, young — like, your-favorite-handbag-might-be-older-than-they-are young. But what they lack in years, these young ladies make up in talent, ethos, and precociousness (and style, of course — we’re still a fashion site, after all!).

We’ve got 15 up-and-coming actresses who will be milking our wallets dry at the movie theaters this year and next. And, don’t worry — even if you can’t pronounce Quvenzhané now, we give it less than a year before even your grandmother will be able to root for her out loud, watching the Oscars.


Photo: Matt Baron/BEImages

Alison Pill — Perhaps you didn’t fall in love with the cherub-faced Allison Pill inDear America: A Journey to the New World (unless you’re this particular writer), but if you’ve seen any of Woody Allen’s recent movies including Midnight in Paris and To Rome With Love, you know exactly how special a screen siren she is. Alison appears in this season’s The Newsroom as associate producer (and one of the main corners in a love triangle). 

Photo: Rex USA

Zoe Kazan — Appearing both off Broadway (with Cynthia Nixon in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie and in Ethan Hawke’s Things We Want), in TV shows (the recently canceled Bored to Death and Medium), and on film (It’s Complicated and Revolutionary Road among others) Zoe Kazan is sort of like the Karl Lagerfeld of acting, dipping her toes into a range of mediums. Her next project, movie Ruby Sparks was written entirely by Zoe, and she’ll star alongside Paul Dano, Antonio Banderas, and Steve Coogan. We also love her indie-darling vibe on the red carpet — she’s kind of the perfect Vena Cava spokes-lady, no? 

Photo: MediaPunch Inc/Rex USA

AnnaSophia Robb — AnnaSophia Robb might not have the natural corkscrew curls of Sarah Jessica Parker, but the 19-year-old actress was chosen to portray the young Carrie Bradshaw in the upcoming Sex and the City prequel, The Carrie Diaries. Her previous work includes a dramatic and emotional turn as Bethany Hamilton in Soul Surfer, a spoiled moment as Violet Beauregarde in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and playing Leslie Burke in Bridge to Terebithia — and they’ve all won her a mess of fans — us included!

Photo: Andreas Branch/Patrick McMullan

Ellen Wong — Ellen Wong’s green belt in taekwondo helped her land the role of the ass-kicking Knives Chau in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, but it was subtlety and talent that led her to be nominated for an ACTRA Award for her role as an illegal immigrant in Silent Cargo. Ellen will star alongside Anna Sophia Robb in The Carrie Diaires and will also be part of the cast of Silent Night, a remake of the 1984’s Christmas-themed horror film Silent Night, Deadly Night

Photo: Carolyn Contino/BEImages

Jennifer Damiano — Acting is difficult enough as it is, but imagine having to do it every single night, singing your words, and chasing a man in a skin-tight suit who flies through the air attached to wires. Jennifer Damiano did all of that and more, playing Mary Jane Watson on Broadway’s Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, and has been in such productions including Spring Awakening and Next to Normal (that one got her a Tony nom). We’re excited to see where Jennifer and her booming voice are headed!

Photo: Billy Farrell/BFA

Bella Heathcote — With her bee-stung lips, lithe frame, and doe-eyed looks, Australian actress and former Neighboursstar Bella Heathcote seems to be made for Tim Burton films, with her role as Victoria Winters in Dark Shadows as the first of what will probably be a long relationship with the Tim Burton crew. Plus. Bella inspires the strongest pangs of bang envy since Zooey Deschanel’s — Pantene, you paying attention?

Photo: Jim Smeal/BEImages

Elizabeth Olsen — Though New York Minute and Holiday in the Sun were perfectly fine (and pretty fun, if we’re being totally honest) movies, Elizabeth Olsen is proving herself to be the real actress in the family. A graduate of Tisch School of the Arts, Lizzie appeared in last year’s psychological thriller Martha Marcy May Marlene, and is currently working on a slew of upcoming, A-list movies including Very Good Girls with Dakota Fanning and a turn as Edie Parker in Kill Your Darlings, alongside Daniel Radcliffe. Plus, as the Elizabeth in Elizabeth and James and with big sisters Mary-Kate and Ashley’s fashion expertise (and closets) on hand, Lizzie is bound to be a style powerhouse.

Photo: Peter Brooker/Rex USA

Shay Mitchell — Shay Mitchell has a long history of playing pretty little things (including appearing in Degrassi: The Next Generation, modeling for American Eagle, and acting as spokesperson for Pantene Nature Fusion), and currently, playing Emily Fields on ABC Family’s Pretty Little Liars. Her compelling role as the sensitive, superstitious lesbian in the quartet of protagonists is one of the more progressive (not to mention addictive) story lines on a major TV network, particularly one that’s geared toward teens. Oh, and did we mention that she’s a do-gooder, too, actively working with the Somaly Mam Foundation to help put an end to human trafficking?

Photo: Jonathan Hordle/Rex USA

Oona Chaplin — Her grandfather might have been Charlie Chaplin, but Oona Chaplin doesn’t really rely on slapstick to get her point across. Appearing in HBO’s cult hit Game of Thrones as Talisa Maegyr and the girlfriend of Dr. Watson on BBC’s Sherlock, Oona also had minor roles in The Devil’s Double and Quantum of Solace. And with Spanish as her primary language, she’s appeared in such Spanish films as Imago Mortis, and ¿Para qué sirve un oso?

Photo: Matt Baron/BEImages

Kara Hayward — Thirteen-year-old Kara Hayward’s first and only movie was the recent Wes Anderson film, Moonrise Kingdom, and her portrayal of lovestruck Suzy was as raw and compelling as they come. A member of Mensa since she was nine, Kara also writes poetry and dances, and has been offered roles in the upcoming Tom Vaughan film, Mixtape. Also — is it just us or is the resemblance between Kara and our own DIY expert Sue uncanny

Photo: Gregory Pace/BEImages

Julia Garner — 18-year-old Julia Garner has already played a child bride (Electrick Children) and a cult member (Martha Marcy May Marlene), and is currently working on filming a role as a cannibal (We Are What We Are) along with less gruesome parts in UnicornsHairBrained, and The Perks of Being a Wallflower. With a mop of curls and silent film-era looks, Julia’s face is hard to forget, and her past and upcoming roster of films is already on our must-watch list.

Photo: Rex USA

Chloe Moretz — At the age of 15, Chloe Grace Moretz has a resumé that’s longer and more varied than those of much older actresses. Having appeared in such diverse films as The Amityville Horror(500) Days of SummerDiary of a Wimpy KidKick-Ass, and Hugo (among many, many others), calling her a busy girl would be an understatement. Her hotly anticipated upcoming remake of Carrie is bound to be a bloody good time, and you can count on our seeing her in the upcoming film adaptation of the popular Emily the Strange books.

Photo: Matt Baron/BEImages

Shailene Woodley — From her role as George Clooney’s brazen daughter in The Descendents to playing lead character Amy Juergens on The Secret Life of the American Teenager, Shailene Woodley has two prominent roles already tucked away at the age 20. She’ll appear in the upcoming James Ponsoldt movie, The Spectacular Now next, and after that gorgeous white Valentino at the Oscars, we can’t wait to see what the accompanying red carpet will bring with it.

Photo: Carolyn Contino/BEImages

Quvenzhané Wallis — The 8-year-old star of Beasts of the Southern Wild, Quvenzhané Wallis, already has people talking about Oscar nominations, and we get it. Just watching the movie’s trailer will stir up such intense feelings in you that you won’t be able to help but be excited about the very young star’s future (not to mention the film itself).

Photo: Clint Spaulding/Patrick McMullan

Zosia Mamet — Word is that Lena Dunham was so impressed with Zosia’s take on Shoshanna, the 20-something-year-old virgin on Girls, that she expanded her minor character to a one of the four protagonists. Zosia has also appeared as assistant photo editor, Joyce Ramsay, on Mad Men, and will star in two upcoming films, Rhymes with Banana and The Last Keepers, but we’re (selfishly) most excited to see where Zosia’s heading, style-wise. As Cynthia Rowley’s date to the 2012 CFDA Awards, she definitely already staked her claim as one to watch on the red carpet. 

Click HERE to read more from Refinery29.

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